Journal

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Mrs. Linda W. Allen

Executive Director
scmsa@sccoast.net

P. O. Box 6980
Myrtle Beach, SC 29572

Phone: (843) 839-5025
Fax: (843) 839-5027

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Journal

The South Carolina Middle School Association Journal is a peer-reviewed journal that highlights research-based practices that improve middle schools and the learning that occurs within and outside of the classroom. Readers of this journal are generally teachers, administrators, and other educators who are interested in the issues that young adolescents and educators of those individuals face.

The South Carolina Middle School Association Journal is published once a year in an online format. The acceptance rate for the 2010 issue was 72% and the 2011 issue was 65%.

 

Submissions

The South Carolina MIddle Schoool Association Jourmal welcomes high-quality manuscripts of varying lengths that address the issues and needs of young adolescents. Your manuscript must be original and not currently submitted for publication anywhere else. To find out more information,  click on Calls for Submission. Winter 2014/2015 Journal Call date is TBA.

 

Beginning with the 2013-2014 edition, the SCMSA Journal will be published in a new format. Please see the menu to the left for the newest edition of our Journal.

 

 

2012/2013 Journal

 

 

Building Synergy: A Successful University-Middle School Partnership

By: Deborah H. McMurtrie and Gary J. Senn

Abstract

A unique partnership between a local middle school, a university, a science education center, and the Center of Excellence in Middle-level, Interdisciplinary Strategies for Teaching (CE-MIST) has resulted in synergistic programs for middle level students, middle level teachers, and middle level pre-service teachers. Middle level students attend exciting, hands-on programs at a science center, visit and become familiar with a college campus, and receive individual attention from a college student mentor at their schools. Middle level teachers have access to numerous resources including professional development, instructional materials, and support in their classrooms. Middle level pre-service teachers gain valuable field experience and increased understanding of young adolescent development. As a model of collaboration between public education, a university, and the private sector, the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center brings together the expertise of educators, scientists, business leaders, and the community as an advocate for young adolescents.

 

Bullying: A Growing Problem in American Schools

By: Kristen E. Taylor, Deborah H. McMurtrie, and Bridget K. Coleman

Abstract

The authors discuss the dangers of bullying along with why and how teachers should combat bullying situations inside and outside the classroom. Bullying is a serious issue within our school system and should be treated as such. The authors address issues associated with bullying and methods for addressing it. Teachers will have an idea of what signs to look for in a variety of bullying scenarios. Suggestions for appropriate responses from teachers in these cases are discussed.

 

A Middle School English Pedagogy: Increasing Students’ Reading Skills while Preparing Students for Standardized Tests

By: Robert M. Vanderburg

Abstract

Improving literacy and testing abilities is a more salient goal for middle school teachers today. To help solve the complex problem of increasing students’ self-concept while preparing students to pass standardized tests, I have created a pedagogy that teaches middle school students to analyze complex texts, teaches students how to transfer those skills to standardized tests and creates an environment where students are able to develop emotionally while feeling they will be successful at reading and standardized tests.

 

 

Columns

Teacher Tools in DISCUS: The Middle School Edition

By: Amanda Stone

Abstract

DISCUS, South Carolina’s virtual library, provides all South Carolina citizens with access to an electronic library of essential information resources. Educators can use many of the resources in DISCUS in their classrooms with students and for professional development. This technology column highlights six resources in DISCUS that middle school educators can use to organize information for students, improve searching for resources, and increase professional development. Tools include the workspace function in Britannica, search widgets for a personal web space, the interactive concept map in Credo Reference, multimedia searching, Learning Express Library for middle school, and alerts for education journals.

 


Staying Connected to the Teaching Field: Middle Level Professional Book Reviews

By: Tiffany LaBrooy

Abstract

After a realization during one of her Masters in Teaching courses, Tiffany realized she needs to stay current in her knowledge of teaching techniques and tools. From this perspective, Tiffany chose to review some professional books that will help both new and veteran teachers to stay fresh and up to date.

 

Informed Choices: Helping Young Adolescents Develop Moral and Ethical Reasoning

By: Janie Riddle Goodman

Abstract

As young adolescents grow in their ability to make principled choices, young adolescents begin to transition from the self-centered perspective of childhood to consideration for the rights and feelings of others (Scales, 2003). In this column, Janie reviews eleven young adult novels that provide opportunities for middle level students to think deeply about the characters’ decisions and actions as they face overwhelming situations.

 
2011 Journal

Research
The field of literacy agrees on the importance of immersing students in texts (IRA, 2000; Ramos, 2007). Particularly, educators show multiple benefits for having students read culturally relevant texts (CRTs) (Freeman & Freeman, 2004), and ways in which culture impacts how a reader interacts with a text (Sipe, 1998; Mellor & Patterson, 2000. Drawing from reader response theory, this article examines how a middle school adolescent of an African decent interacts with two CRTs. The data suggests that, when readers read CRTs, they compare themselves with the characters in a text, they evoke specific emotions and they think critically about a text. Implications of the findings for teachers are discussed. Resources, advice, and strategies to help teachers facilitate critical reflections of students’ responses for young adolescents from Africa are also included.


Researchers used a formative experiment to examine how collaboration in an online environment could be implemented in a seventh-grade classroom to improve the quality of student writing and increase revision over multiple drafts. Prior to this study, participants were identified as reluctant writers. This article focuses on a small portion of this larger study, examining data related to student engagement and attitudes toward writing in the English language arts classroom. Students began using an online space (Ning) to post ideas and writing. Analyses revealed increased student engagement with writing, including evidence of collaboration with peers in class and outside of school.


  • Abstract

This article examines literature on adolescent literacy and literature on partnerships between secondary schools and colleges or universities. A description of how a group of college students tutored disadvantaged middle-level students is provided. Findings indicate that additional literacy programs and resources are needed in the middle-level schools in order to effectively prepare disadvantaged middle-level students for high school and college. Additionally, the article provides middle-level educators and tutors with strategies that can be used in their classrooms to enhance disadvantaged students’ literacy levels.


  • Abstract

Twelve years ago, community-wide contempt, extreme poverty rates, and a poorly performing student body challenged Magnolia Grove Middle School’s principal, Anne Martin. Over time, Martin worked to eradicate all excuses from the vocabularies and attitudes of each person within the school’s “family.” An ethos of care, and each child’s development as a capable and confident citizen drove Martin’s every action. Each of Martin’s context specific leadership strategies aligned with research-based leadership practices to improve school culture. Thanks in large part to Martin, Magnolia Grove now takes pride in being nationally recognized as both an AVID Demonstration Site and a “School to Watch.”


  • Abstract

This article presents a program, funded by the AmeriCorps Corporation and sponsored by Claflin University, that has worked to help middle level students in Orangeburg and Calhoun Counties. The organization and procedures the program uses to help the students is described.



Pedagogy


  • Abstract

Is it really possible to incorporate an authentic literacy experience into a meaningful mathematics lesson? Two teachers in the Beaufort County School District were intrigued by the possibility and decided to incorporate a novel into their mathematics curriculum. Students embraced a different approach to learning math, and the teachers learned a great deal about themselves and their students while collaborating during this project. The synergy created between the two served each of them well and more importantly, their students benefitted significantly.


  • Abstract

A Document Walk is a student-driven activity that prompts students to act as historians by generating their own historical narratives, while at the same time improving literacy skills. Developed in a rural South Carolina school district, this approach engages middle and high school students with the ambiguity of a historiography process as they grapple with the transition from interpretive murkiness to clarity in order to construct a point of view. The authors discuss the pedagogical background of the strategy, explain how to use the strategy in the classroom, and share insights from classroom observations, student work, and student interviews.


  • Abstract

The majority of activities with primary sources focus on document analysis questions. There is a need for innovative classroom activities with primary sources. One approach is for students to create facsimile primary sources. The article explores three activities for having students create facsimile primary sources. These activities include wanted posters, storyboards, and alternative history newspapers. The steps of using these three activities and benefits of each activity are described.


  • Abstract

As we move further into the 21st Century, our profession is challenged to develop specific skills in the K-12 graduate that are driven by a highly technical, global economy. This is a daunting task for those deeply rooted 20th Century pedagogy, dated infrastructure and varying levels of available resources. For middle-level educators, the management and organization of an initial program must consider changing infrastructure needs as well as the unique characteristics of the early adolescent. Enlisting an experienced mediator objectively focuses goals on student outcomes and reduces frustration for all stakeholders as students build 21st Century skills.



  • Abstract

This article offers an example of using local history to develop an integrated curriculum. A teacher explored a historical site and created meaningful lessons to engage students in learning about it. The authors share the development of the curriculum and ideas from the lessons.


Columns


  • Abstract

This review of online national and state educational resources uses two website review methodologies to analyze the effectiveness of these resources for South Carolina middle school classrooms learning South Carolina-specific standards. These educational websites provide a wide range of tools and materials for both students and teachers, including primary sources, photographs, lesson plans, timelines, multimedia, and interactive modules. Each website reviewed is written or sponsored by national, state, or local government entities and each review features an 8th grade social studies standard with examples of how the standard can be addressed using the online resource.


  • Abstract

After her first year of teaching, Tiffany researched professional development books that would open her eyes to ways in which she could strengthen her middle level teaching strategies. The books she chose to review all provide excellent resources for new and veteran teachers alike.


  • Abstract

In its position paper, This We Believe: Keys to Educating Young Adolescents, the Association for Middle Level Education (2010) lists one of the 16 essential attributes and characteristics of a successful middle school as “a school environment that is inviting, safe, inclusive, and supportive of all” (p. 14). Unfortunately, students usually experience various types of bullying either on the way to or at school. If socially conscious teachers do not want their young adolescent students to believe that teasing, name-calling, pushing, spreading rumors, excluding, and other harmful actions are just playful pranks, they can weave quality YA literature into their curriculum—texts that address different types of bullying. In this article, Janie reviews YA literature that include different types of bullying and are written in various styles, appealing to a wide range of young adolescents’ reading preferences.


 

 
2010 Journal


Research

  • The Impact of Interdisciplinary Teaching of Social Studies and Language Arts on Seventh Grade Divergent and Non Divergent Learners through Integrated Literature and Projects By: Derrick Price and Chris Burkett
    • Abstract
      This study was conducted to determine the impact of interdisciplinary projects on divergent learners’ grades and interest/enjoyment of social studies and English/language arts. For each major unit taught in social studies, students were reading connected literature in English/ language arts and then completing a connected project in both classes. At the end of the first semester, 52 divergent learners were identified. Those students’ grades, surveys, and feedback forms gave a clear picture of the impact of this curriculum. These students saw an improvement in their English/language arts grades and a definite improvement in writing skills. There was not much difference identified in social studies grades. The study determined that curriculum could be more effective if the projects were smaller, more connected literature was used, and daily lessons with interdisciplinary connections were made.
  • Merging Brain Research and Single-Gender Education: Perceptions of Middle-Level Learners By: Tammy J. Graham, Harmonica R. Hart, Stephenie M. Hewett, and Renee N. Jefferson
    • Abstract
      This article examines middle school students’ perceptions of the effects of single-gender programs on their academic interests and social interactions. Data on single-gender programs from the South Carolina Department of Education are analyzed and disaggregated by gender, race/ethnicity, and grade levels. Additionally, literature on single-gender education and brain-based learning is explored. The inquiry provides research-based evidence to assist educational leaders in determining if single-gender education is an appropriate choice for their middle-level learners. Strategies for working with female and male students in single-gender and mixed-gender classrooms are also described.
  • Is Single-Gender Education the Answer for African-American Males? By: Robert Nunnery
    • Abstract
      This article examines middle school students’ perceptions of the effects of single-gender programs on their academic interests and social interactions. Data on single-gender programs from the South Carolina Department of Education are analyzed and disaggregated by gender, race/ethnicity, and grade levels. Additionally, literature on single-gender education and brain-based learning is explored. The inquiry provides research-based evidence to assist educational leaders in determining if single-gender education is an appropriate choice for their middle-level learners. Strategies for working with female and male students in single-gender and mixed-gender classrooms are also described.
  • Cross-Checking the Trends: A Comparison of IRA?s List of “What?s Hot” with “What?s Published” By: John Robertson and Clayton Leishman
    • Abstract
      The authors reviewed the contents of six years of peer reviewed journals concerning adolescent literacy (2004-2009). They analyzed the data searching for trends in types of research, topics of research, and demographics. The results are cross referenced to previous studies by Roe (2004) and Cassidy, Garrett, and Berrea (2006). The authors argue that the journals examined were more likely to be practitioner based than research based and that some populations were underrepresented in the selection of journals.

Pedagogy

  • Peer and Self-Assessment: 20 Classroom Strategies and Other Resources to Increase Student Motivation and Achievement By: Dr. Allison Nazzal
    • Abstract
      Assessment is a critically important step within middle school instructional design. It is also one of the most misunderstood, misinterpreted, and overlooked steps within lesson design. It is appropriate for teachers to develop formative and summative assessments, especially in a differentiated classroom. Unfortunately, formative assessments are too often neglected. Nonetheless, ongoing developmentally responsive assessment that motivates students to continue learning is central to the National Middle School Association’s middle school philosophy. This paper shares peer- and self-assessment strategies and Internet sites that can be used in differentiated classrooms to develop a balanced assessment plan that can be utilized across content areas.
  • From Blooms to Remediation By: Lee Westberry and Leslie Howder
    • Abstract
      One school undergoes a comprehensive school improvement plan that has spanned three years and is still evolving. Teachers work in professional learning communities to collaborate and focus on results. This school began its journey analyzing the state content standards and compared them to the Revised Blooms Taxonomy. After understanding the cognitive level of the standards, teachers worked to craft assessments to match the level of Blooms present in the standards. The plan included writing benchmark assessments, administering them every quarter, and analyzing the results. Teachers developed remediation plans and held student-led conferences while developing best practices in instruction and assessment.
  • Mastering Research in Middle School: Preparing our Students to be 21st Century Learners By: Dr. Emily S. Harris
    • Abstract
      Middle school students are often deficient in informational literacy skills, which are essential to completing their assignments, learning in school, and being a lifelong learner. Knowing that low
      informational literacy skills increases plagiarism and that there is a need for an information seeking scaffolding for the students prompted a media specialist and 6th grade English/language arts teachers to develop and deliver collaboratively a month long research unit. This unit, which aims to teach the students how to define their assignment, locate and effectively use information, and synthesize the information into a product appropriate for their assignment, will be discussed in the article.
  • Multi-Genre Research Papers: Creating a Literacy Experience By: Patti Gosnell
    • Abstract
      The traditional research paper inherently creates a sense of drudgery and boredom in our students. By using the multi-genre research approach in teaching a research unit, the teacher has given the students a voice and an experience when producing the research paper. A multi-genre research paper incorporates many different genres in the final research product. Technology tools such as Movie Maker and Animoto videos can be used. Written products such as letters and obituaries may be used. Art work such as comic strips and tattoo designs may be used. The final product results in a culmination of interpretations of the research topic.
  • Using Engaging and Accessible Illustrated Biographies in the Middle School Classroom By: Caroline Wardlaw Knight
    • Abstract
      Illustrated biographies have distinctive features that make them valuable tools in middle school classrooms: brevity, accessibility, and aesthetic appeal. These high-interest resources have benefits for reluctant readers, English Language Learners, visual learners, and the entire classroom community. Ideas for enticing cross-curricular learning are included, as well as a list of biographies that feature international figures, women, and notable people from other groups typically underrepresented in textbooks.
  • Making Reform Work in the Middle By: Ingrid Dukes and Kelli Roberson
    • Abstract
      This manuscript explains how the Making Middle Grades Work Framework (MMGW) has helped College Park Middle School (CPMS) to develop programs that have resulted in increased student achievement, as well as a decrease in behavioral issues. The current financial crisis facing schools and families and the increasing societal demands were resulting in many students not receiving the guidance and support necessary for them to continuously improve. The practices served as guidance for the implementation of two programs that have been very successful. Professional Learning Communities are now part of the culture at CPMS. These learning communities use all of the practices as a means of ensuring that instructional decisions are data-driven, relevant, and aid in developing positive relationships with students and parents. In addition, the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) model also incorporates the key practices by focusing on student differences and clear expectations that promote student
      adherence and parental support. The implementation of PBIS has resulted in more instructional time which has helped to increase student achievement. The combination of these two programs, with the guidance of the MMGW Framework, has allowed us to do what is best for students, our center point.
  • Using an Interdisciplinary “Trunk” to Facilitate Interdisciplinary Planning Among Teachers By: Gary J. Senn, Bridget C. Coleman, and Deborah H. McMurtrie
    • Abstract
      Interdisciplinary traveling trunks were established through a partnership between a university and three middle schools. The project provided professional development for teachers and enrichment activities for students. The establishment of trunks was used as the catalyst to tie interdisciplinary planning by teachers to activities with students. Teams were comprised of one teacher from each of the four main content areas and one additional teacher from another discipline. The final product of each team was a “trunk” that included a unit plan, lesson plans and materials necessary to facilitate the delivery of the instructional unit to students.
  • From Construction to Community: Using School-Wide Reads as a Pathway to Literacy By: Dywanna Smith & Tori T. Simmons
    • Abstract
      Edmund Wilson declared “no two persons have ever read the same book.” Cities and universities across the nation have utilized this belief as a starting point for great conversations by promoting community reads. Seldom used by high schools or middle schools, community reads can provide schools the same benefits as for cities and larger universities: providing a common ground, a common experience, and the starting point for dynamic conversations. This article discusses how Hand Middle School used a school-wide read as a pathway to literacy development and provides tips and guidelines for starting your own school-wide read.
  • Connecting Literature with Mathematics Activities Involving Adolescent Literature in Middle Grades Math Class By: Candice Brucke
    • Abstract
      Mathematics is its own language. In all languages, it is important for students to be able to communicate comfortably and effectively. Being able to communicate in math means students can listen, read, write, and talk about mathematics. Math textbooks typically have more concepts per paragraph than other types of textbooks and they do not necessarily follow the normal reading strategy of left-to-right (Wetzel, 2010). Supplementing textbooks is a common practice for teachers; teachers should consider including adolescent literature in those supplemental materials. For students to communicate mathematically, literacy instruction must be an integral part of the math classroom and adolescent literature is a researched-based practice that lends itself nicely to improving literacy.
  • The Making Middle Grades Work Chairman in the Mirror By: J. Cate Thompson
    • Abstract
      This paper explores the challenges new Making Middle Grades Work focus team chairmen face in evaluating themselves and the performance of their teams. Making Middle Grades Work Chairmen are charged with designing the structure, laying the foundation, and building and maintaining high performing focus teams in their schools. This paper examines leadership building texts, Lencioni’s (2002) five dysfunctions of a team, Southern Regional Education Board’s (2010) ten key practices, as well as varying definitions of high performing teams. Katzenbach and Smith’s (1993) research for their book, The Wisdom of Teams, and their six distinguishing characteristics of high-performing teams, are examined and applied to a new Data Committee, Making Middle Grades Work focus team. This paper gives practical applications and advice for new Making Middle Grades Work schools.
  • Ask the Kids: Students, Teachers and  "Good" Teaching By: Ross M. Burkhardt
    • Abstract
      Good teaching is as important in today’s middle level schools as it ever has been. But what constitutes good teaching? And how can we do better at reaching more students? In this article, Ross Burkhardt draws upon the voices of young adolescents across America to offer sound pedagogical advice for classroom practitioners. If we “ask the kids” and heed their counsel, we can improve our practice and enhance the educational experiences of the students in our classrooms.

Columns

  • Technology for Teachers Guest Contributors: Robin Gerzema, Jennifer Guest, Kendrick Kerr, and Dywanna Smith
    • Abstract
      This new column provides excellent technology ideas for math, science, and social studies teachers to use next week. These practical ideas with help teacher incorporate new ways to use technology in their lessons.
 

2009 Journal

 

 

  

Book Reviews

 

 

 
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